COVID-19 Claims Lives of Leading Turkmen Doctors

The “non-existent” COVID-19 epidemic in Turkmenistan is continuing to claim victims. has learnt that three prominent doctors died of coronavirus-related illnesses in July and August: the head of the medical university’s histology department, Bayram Kerbabaev; the head of the university’s obstetrics and gynecology department, Rano Hasanova; and a head of department at the AIDS Center in Balkanabat, Ene Kulieva.

Bayram Kerbabaev, 76, died early in the morning on August 8. Everyone in Turkmenistan, both young and old, knows this surname: Bayram Kerbabaev was the son of famous Turkmen writer Berdy Kerbabaev. Though he didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps, he became just as well known. The peak of Bayram Kerbabaev’s career was the position of head of the department of histology, embryology, and cytology at the Turkmenistan State Medical University. In 2016, he was awarded the Gaýrat (Diligence) medal for special services to the development of the economy, science, and culture.

In his decades of work Bayram Kerbabaev nurtured several generations of doctors, who expressed their appreciation for him both in person and after his premature death. There has been an outpouring of grief and valedictory remarks on Bayram Kerbabaev’s personal page on social networks.

In early July, the Turkmen State Medical University suffered another loss – the head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology, Rano Hasanova. She died just over a month short of her 72nd birthday.

Ene Kulieva, 59, died on August 12 in Balkanabat, according to’ sources. Like Bayram Kerbabaev, she was from a well-known family. She continued a medical dynasty – her father was an infectious diseases specialist and her mother deputy chief doctor at the children’s hospital in Ashgabat. Ene Kulieva was a pediatrician, but in the last years of her life she led the public health awareness department at the AIDS center in Balkanabat.

“She was beautiful, cheerful, and extremely good at her work. She was full of energy too,” an acquaintance recalls.

Sources say that Ene Kulieva had been sent to work on the rollout of COVID-19 quarantine and was looking after her son at home who had contracted the virus. A reader, who recovered from the virus in Mary district, wrote recently that doctors of all specialisms and from different medical institutions had been sent to work with patients on 14-day shift patterns at COVID centers set up across the country. Both Ene Kulieva and her son caught the virus, but it turned out to be fatal for her.

It emerged recently that well-known Turkmen psychiatrist and sexual health specialist Artyknur Nohurov has also died. Several sources reported that the doctor died of complications related to COVID-19. However, in the course of verifying the reports found that cardiovascular disease caused the 80-year-old doctor’s death. His blood pressure had been critically high in the days before he died. has managed to confirm conclusively the deaths of 37 people related to COVID-19 since starting to monitor the coronavirus situation in Turkmenistan, where the government does not acknowledge the presence of the virus.

Of them 10 people, or over 27%, were doctors or working in related professions.

In addition to the three doctors named above, they are:

  •                 Gulya Babaeva, a family doctor at polyclinic in Abadan, near Ashgabat;
  •                 Tamara Hydyrkulieva, a family doctor at polyclinic No. 8 in Ashgabat;
  •                 Anatoliy Rizaev, a teacher of topographic anatomy at the Ashgabat medical institute;
  •                 Batyr Bayrammuradov, head of the Garry Lukman pharmacy in Ashgabat;
  •                 Bayramdurdy Saparov, a former obstetrician and gynaecologist in Mary region (died in prison);
  •                 Sona Cherkezova, a doctor and infectious diseases specialist at Choganly hospital;
  •                 Yusup Toylyev, a surgeon at Koneurgench hospital.